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Church History. John Oakes, PhD Apologetics Research Society. Why Study Church History?. Learn the Mistakes of History → Avoid them? Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Discover our own roots (Restoration Movement, Campus Ministry, ICOC)

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Church History

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Church history

Church History

John Oakes, PhD

Apologetics Research Society

Why study church history

Why Study Church History?

  • Learn the Mistakes of History → Avoid them? Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  • Discover our own roots (Restoration Movement, Campus Ministry, ICOC)

  • Avoid swinging the pendulum Grace ↔ Legalism Doctrine ↔ Zeal, Emotion, Heart Asceticism ↔Freedom

How is true christianity lost

How is True Christianity Lost?

  • Growth of splinter, heretical groups with false teachings.

  • Gradual drift of the “true church” from biblical practice for good and sincere reasons.

Early schisms and heresies

Early Schisms and Heresies

  • Judaizers legalism Gal 1:8

  • Ebionites Denied deity of Jesus

  • Gnostics Deny humanity of Jesus, deep knowledge

  • Docetism Jesus not a physical person

  • Marcionites Jehovah an evil god. Established canon.

  • Montanists Charismatics, modern-day revelation

  • Novatianists Division over purity of the church

  • Arians Denied deity of Jesus

Church history

Gnosticism: The Gospel of Judas

“But you [ie. Judas] will exceed all of them.  For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”

Another way to lose it the church drifts

Another way to lose it: The Church Drifts

  • Orthodoxy vs Orthopraxy

  • Heterodoxy vs Heteropraxy

  • Theme: Almost all these examples of drift from Orthopraxy started out as a reasonable and seemingly wise response to a real problem (heresy) at the time!

  • Irenaeus: Defended against heresy using “Church tradition”, The rule of faith, and the authority of apostolic succession.

The apostolic church drifts

The Apostolic Church Drifts…

  • Leadership/Church Organization

  • Doctrine of Baptism

  • Asceticism, Monasticism

  • Creeds

  • Sacerdotalism/Priesthood clergy and laity

    • Lord’s Supper becomes a sacrifice

  • Sacramentalism: Liturgy, Church Calendar

    • Veneration of “Saints”

  • Hermeneutics

    • Allegorizing of Scripture vs Historical/Analytical approach

Lessons learned from the early church

Lessons Learned From the Early Church

  • Avoid convenient but unscriptural organizational structure.

  • Resist the trend toward ritualism in our worship.

  • Do not overreact to false doctrines.

  • Avoid relying on creeds to defend truth.

  • Do not overemphasize the importance of physical sacrifice, prayer or any other good spiritual activity

  • Watch for tendency to develop a clergy/laity division

  • Stress good methods of Bible exegesis

Highlights in 3 rd and 4 th centuries

Highlights in 3rd and 4th Centuries

  • Persecutions

    • Decius 249-251 Valerian 253-260

    • Diocletian 303-304 Galerain, Licinius

  • Edict of Milan 313 Toleration of Christianity

  • Constantine, Emperor of all Rome 323

    • Beginning of “Christendom”

  • Council of Nicaea

    • Arianism

    • Nicene Creed

  • Julian the Apostate

Augustine 354 430 the sovereignty of god

Augustine (354-430) The Sovereignty of God

  • Laid groundwork for Christendom, Medieval Christianity and Reformation theology

  • The City of God, Christendom, Church and State

  • Original Sin: Mankind totally depraved

  • Predestination

  • Sacramentalism Baptism, Ordination etc ex opere opero

  • Transubstantiation

  • Immaculate Conception

  • Reacted against Donatists

  • Reacted against Pelagius, Pelagianism

True christianity in the middle ages

True Christianity in the Middle Ages?

  • Paulicians 650-900’s Asia Minor

  • Albigenses, Cathars 1000’s-1200’s Southern France

  • Henry the Monk 1100

  • Arnold of Brescia 1155 Italy

  • Peter of Bruys 1140 Northern Italy

  • Waldensians 1175-1500’s Peter Waldo, Switzerland

The reformation

The Reformation

  • John Wyclif England, 1324-1384

  • John Huss Bohemia, 1374-1415

  • Martin Luther Germany, 1483-1546

  • Ulrich Zwingli Switzerland, 1484-1531

  • William Tyndale England, 1494-1536

  • John Calvin France, 1509-1564

  • John Knox Scotland, 1505-1572

Church history

John Wyclif 1324-1384

Translated Vulgate into English Opposed indulgences, idols, priesthood The Pope is the antichrist Followers known as Lollards

Declared heretics 1401

Church history

John Huss 1374-1415 Bohemia

Influenced by Wyclif Bible the only authority Only God can forgive sin Burned at the stake Hussites virtually wiped out by the Inquisition Brethren and Moravian Churches

Church history

John Huss Burned at the stake, 1415

Church history

Martin Luther 1483-1546

Augustinian Monk

95 Theses in Wittenburg 1517

Studied Romans

Grace Through Faith Only

Scripture Only


Book of James a “book of straw.”

Kept much of Catholic worship practices

Church history

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

Swiss Reformer

More radical than Luther

Rejected almost all Catholic forms of worship. “Four bare walls and a sermon.”

Differed on the Lord’s Supper

Lord’s Supper and Baptism are “symbolic ceremonies.”

His influence led to the Anabaptists

Principle influence on John Calvin

Died as a soldier fighting a Catholic Swiss canons.

Church history

The Anabaptist Movement (1530’s and later)

The Radical Reformation

Menno Simmons 1496-1561

Martyrdom of Anabaptists

The anabaptist movement cont

The Anabaptist Movement (cont.)

  • Baptism by immersion of adults after confession of faith for salvation.

  • Bible the only authority.

  • Separation of church and state.

  • Emphasized both life and doctrine

  • Pacifists (usually)

  • Many martyrs

  • Began evangelistic, but became exclusive and withdrawn. (Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites)

  • Tended to be very schismatic

John calvin 1509 1564

John Calvin 1509-1564

  • Followed Zwingli

  • Most influential theologian of the Reformation

  • Emphasized Historical/Covenantal Theology

  • Wrote Institutes of Christian Religion

  • Established an autocratic theocracy in Geneva

  • Best known for his strong emphasis on predestination/monergism.

  • God has two wills: his revealed will (1 Tim 2:3-4) and his secret will: foreordination of souls

  • Calvinist denominations: Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, Puritan, Baptist, Anglican(?)



John Calvin

  • Total depravity of mankind

  • Unconditional election

  • Limited atonement

  • Irresistible grace

  • final Preservation of the saints

Pietist and revivalist movements

Pietist and Revivalist Movements

  • John (1703-1791) and Charles (1707-1788) Wesley

    • Stressed holiness, piety, personal relationship with God

    • Arminian theology

    • Reformer of Anglicanism

    • Strong organizer: “Methodism”

  • George Whitehead Revivalist Preacher

    • Friend of Wesley, but differed on Calvinism.

  • Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening (1730s and 40s)

    • “A sinner in the hands of an angry God.”

    • Sought an outward sign of God’s grace.

The stone campbell movement

The Stone/CampbellMovement

Restoration or Reformation?

Church history

James O’Kelly

We are “Christians simply”

Rice haggard 1769 1819

Rice Haggard 1769-1819

“One thing I know, that whenever non-essentials are made terms of communion, it will never fail to have a tendency to disunite and scatter the church of Christ.”

Barton w stone 1772 1844 the heart of the movement

Barton W. Stone 1772-1844The heart of the movement

The Cane Ridge Revival

The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery

“Let Christian Unity be our Polar Star.”

“I do, so far as I see it consistent with the word of God.”

Church history

The Presbytery of Springfield, sitting at Cane Ridge, in the county of Bourbon, being, through a gracious Providence, in more than ordinary bodily health, growing in strength and size daily; and in perfect soundness and composure of mind; but knowing what it is appointed for all delegated bodies once to die: and considering that the life of every such body is very uncertain, do take, and ordain this our Last Will and Testament, in manner and following,….

And with that the Springfield Presbytery no longer existed and the Stone movement began.

Thomas campbell 1763 1851

Thomas Campbell 1763-1851

Emigrated to Pennsylvania 1807

Suspended by Presbyterian Church

The Declaration and Address 1809

Principles for unity of Christians.

Alexander campbell 1788 1866 the mind of the movement

Alexander Campbell 1788-1866The mind of the movement

Joined Thomas from Scotland 1809

Believers only baptism 1812

Campbell/Walker Debate 1820

The Millennial Harbinger 1830

Bethany College 1840

Walter scott 1796 1861

Walter Scott (1796-1861)

First evangelist in the movement

“Restored the gospel” in 1827

The five step “plan” of salvation

Scott’s: faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, Holy Spirit

CoC today: hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized

The crowning event of the early years

The crowning event of the early years:

  • Stone and Campbell met for the first time

  • Decided to form a unified movement

  • Problems:

  • Christian (Stonites) or Disciple (Campbellites)

  • 2. Emotional vs intellectual movements (preachers vs teachers)

  • Teaching on baptism

  • Ordination of ministers

  • 5. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

Hermeneutics of the movement

Hermeneutics of the Movement

“Command, Example and Necessary Demonstrations.”

“Where the Bible speaks, we speak, where the Bible is silent, we are silent”

Sought Bible “facts.” Weak on principles. Tended toward legalism.

The turning point

The Turning Point:

Were they a unity movement (a reformation) or a restoration movement?

Stone and Campbell favored reformation (example; the Christadelphians)

Walter Scott, Benjamin Franklin, Tolbert Fanning, David Lipscomb and others moved toward restoration. Sought “the perfect pattern.”

The dominating influences in the movement

The Dominating Influences in the Movement

  • The Colleges (Bethany College, David Lipscomb College, etc.)

  • The Periodicals (editor/bishops) (The Millennial Harbinger, The American Christian Review, The Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, etc.)

  • These were forces for unity and for division

Points of disunity division

Points of disunity/division

  • Evangelism and inter-church organization (the Missionary Society)

  • The Civil War: pacifism, slavery, etc. (The Missionary Society supported the North)

  • The “instrument.” Moses Lard: “No preacher should enter a church where an organ stands.”

  • Daniel Sommer and David Lipscomb.

  • 1906 US Census acknowledged two separate groups: The Church of Christ and the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ.

Church history

David Lipscomb (1831-1917)

“Father” of the Church of Christ

Founder of Lipscomb University

Editor of the Gospel Advocate 1866-1917

Daniel Sommer

“Watchdog” for the brotherhood.

“Daniel Sommer was a militant who left a legacy of legalistic wrangling and divided congregations.”

Other controversies

Other Controversies

  • One cup, Sunday School, “anti” churches

  • Premillennialism

  • For the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ; The Ecumenical Movement. Open Membership.

  • UCMS (United Christian Missionary Society) vs. NACC (North American Christian Convention)

  • Two denominations by about 1950

Lessons to be learned

Lessons to be learned

  • Unity is extremely difficult to maintain without strong hierarchical structure.

  • Separating essential matters from the non-essential is harder than we think.

  • A movement without a strong hierarchical structure needs instruments to maintain unity.

  • Careful thinking about theology, church structure and history are required for long term growth and unity.

  • It is extremely difficult to avoid overreacting to groups with whom we disagree.

Church history

Book Recommendations:

Reviving the Ancient Faith (Hughes)

The Stone Campbell Movement (Garrett)

Into All Nations (Foster Stanback)

The Search for the Ancient Order (West)

Crossroads boston icoc movement

Crossroads/Boston/ICOC Movement

  • 1960’s “College Chairs” Within CoC

  • 1967 Chuck Lucas 14th Street CoC (Crossroads CoC)

    • Soul talks

    • Prayer partners

    • Emphasis on evangelism

  • After 1975 “campus ministries”

    • Tom Brown, Andy Lindo, Kip McKean, etc…

    • Many church splits resulted

  • 1979 Kip McKean, Lexington/Boston CoC

    • “sold out” disciples only in the church

    • Amazing growth

    • Emphasis on world evangelism

    • Vertical discipling trees, uniformity and simplicity of methodology

Boston la icoc movement cont

Boston/LA/ICOC movement (cont.)

  • Chuck Lucas resigns at Crossroads CoC 1985

  • Official split with CoC 1986

    • Who’s fault was it?

  • Church Reconstructions 1988

    • You are in or you are out

  • Evangelization Proclamation 1994

  • Kip McKean removed as world evangelist/head of the movement November, 2001

  • Kreite letter/ICOC structure falls apart Feb 2003

  • Attempts at para-church organization, the “unity letter”

Hermeneutics of coc and icoc

Hermeneutics of CoC and ICOC

  • Alexander Campbell: “Where the Bible speaks, we speak, where the Bible is silent, we are silent.”

  • Kip McKean: Where the Bible speaks, we are silent, where the Bible is silent, we speak.”

  • CoC: Strong emphasis on Bible Study, Bible colleges

  • Kip McKean: Anti-intellectual tendency and skeptical of theological training.

Where should we go from here

Where Should We Go From Here?

  • Balance of autonomy and cooperation

  • Finding a healthy model for “discipling”/implementing one another passages

  • Meeting the needs of mature disciples without losing our simple evangelistic plea—continuing to raise up young leaders

  • Appointing and finding the best role for elders and a balance with the role of evangelists (and teachers as well)

  • Our formal and informal relationship with mainline CoC and other groups.

Church history


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The crowning event of the early years1

The crowning event of the early years:

  • Stone and Campbell met for the first time

  • Decided to form a unified movement

  • Problems:

  • Christian (Stonites) or Disciple (Campbellites)

  • 2. Emotional vs intellectual movements (preachers vs teachers)

  • Teaching on baptism

  • Ordination of ministers

  • 5. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

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